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  • Larry Stevens

Content is (still) king for advertisers

Content is still king for advertisers

I’ve spent most of my career within the world of premium content. I’ve worked at the World’s largest magazine publishing companies such as Meredith, Hearst and Time, Inc, where it’s in their DNA to produce world-class content for their consumers. This content has always been deemed as valuable to advertisers as an environment to surround their ads when looking to reach their target audience.

Throughout the years, I've seen a proliferation of content distributed across a number of vehicles and it seems like there’s a new distribution channel every day. It’s mind-boggling to figure out where an advertiser should align their messaging, given all the channels that are at their disposal. These days, it’s not simply looking at the specific verticals (i.e. Health, Fashion, Technology) and then figuring out from a list of a few partners what would work best for your brand. Now, you need to decide what would best work to efficiently get the word out for your messaging. Do you want to be associated with quick sound bites (i.e. Twitter) or long form articles (such as magazine websites)? Do you want it to become viral or as a part of a conservative story that lends a “feel good” feeling by association?

I’ve only been talking about written content, however there’s been an incredible influx of video and that brings on a whole new level of excitement (and headaches) when choosing the best partner. Bringing life to a story that is unparalleled with video, you have the ability to take on some incredible risks as an advertiser, however that also can reap huge rewards. Take Clorox’s Hidden Valley Ranch’s custom videos produced with the incorporation of the Holderness Family (who on their own became a viral sensation and, in essence, a brand in and of itself). They created videos around the Super Bowl that had the Holderness family singing, dancing and doing what they do best – charming their audience. The industry news was abuzz when the videos came out but where did this go? Did the audience think that the Holderness Family sold out? Did Hidden Valley Ranch get what they wanted out of this and ultimately, did they sell more product?

The good news is I’ve seen some incredible talent coming up in all aspects of the business. A great content creator does not necessarily need to rise through the ranks of a stable publishing company. Like the Holderness family, we’re seeing the proliferation of content stars rising through the ranks. They are following their passions (whether it’s through dance, music, food or even video games) and creating their own brands with the production of amazing content.

This helps when clients want new and fresh content ideas– not attaching themselves to existing content. Advertisers now have the ability to explore so many wonderful ideas, it’s confusingly wonderful. It’s now up to us as marketers to come up with the crazy, fun ideas and find the right talent that matches and aligns. We live in a sea of choices that, if harnessed correctly, can create the most powerful messaging. I recently worked with an MCN (multi-channel network) on behalf of a very large apparel company and the end result was nothing short of magic – we developed an idea that utilized some of the top YouTube talent within the entertainment space and it was (and is) pure perfection. The influencers were excited about displaying the product, the company was floored by the way their clothes were displayed and – the audience sees something that’s visually stunning. This creates excitement that transcends any hard costs devoted to the project. The videos became viral and talked about amongst the audience the client wanted to connect with – pure perfection.

While I grew up in an industry that treated content as the holy grail of custom marketing programs, I want to say that it’s still alive and kicking, but in a much different way. Although it’s changed so much since I first entered the business, I think it’s just the beginning of this new era of content creation – and it’s a thrill to be a small part of it.

This post was originally published on Linkedin 10/30/2015

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